International Bans

Countries banning or limiting chimpanzee research

United States

European Union

The NIH announces an end to funding biomedical research on chimpanzees and that all federally-owned chimpanzees are eligible for retirement to sanctuary, 2015

Law banning great ape research, 2013


Law banning great ape research, 2008


Resolution granting great apes legal rights, 2008

Balearic Islands (Spain)

Resolution granting great apes legal rights, 2007


Law banning great ape research, 2006


Agreement ending invasive chimpanzee research, 2006


Policy limiting great ape research, 2003


Regulation banning great ape research, 2003


Law banning great ape research, 2002

New Zealand

Law banning great ape research, 2000

United Kingdom

Policy banning licenses for great ape research, 1997

A growing movement

There is a growing awareness around the world that experimenting on chimpanzees is wrong. In 2015, the United States joined Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and the European Union in banning or severely limiting experiments on chimpanzees.

In June 2013, the National Institutes of Health had announced its decision to significantly reduce the use of chimpanzees in agency-supported biomedical research, keeping only a reserve group of 50 chimpanzees for possible future research, which, if conducted, would be required to adhere to strict principles and criteria as set forth by the Institute of Medicine. (1) Then, in November 2015, the NIH further announced a total end to funding biomedical research on chimpanzees and also that all federally-owned chimpanzees would be eligible for retirement to sanctuary.  

NIH Director, Dr. Francis Collins, explained: "I think this is the natural next step of what has been a very thoughtful five-year process of trying to come to terms with the benefits and risks of trying to perform research with these very special animals,” Collins said in an interview with Nature. “We reached a point where in that five years the need for research has essentially shrunk to zero."

Prior to these changes in the United States, in 1997, the United Kingdom approved a policy to prohibit the granting of new licenses for great ape research. In 2000, New Zealand became the first nation to pass legislation officially prohibiting research on great apes. The Netherlands and Sweden followed New Zealand’s lead with bans in 2002 and 2003, respectively. By 2006, the Austrian Parliament had unanimously passed an amendment to forbid research on all nonhuman apes, which includes gibbons as well as chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, and gorillas. Japan ceased all invasive research on chimpanzees that year as well.

Later, in 2007, attention was placed on revising the European Union (EU)’s laboratory animal welfare laws under Directive 86/609/EEC. On November 5, 2008, the European Commission adopted a proposal to revise the Directive that included a ban on the use of great apes (including chimpanzees) in scientific procedures except in cases of “conservation of the species itself” or in the case of “a serious pandemic affecting the human population of Europe.” (1) In 2010, the EU ban on the use of great apes in research was made official under Directive 2010/63/EU. The Directive went into effect in January 2013.


Although no experiments involving great apes had occurred in Belgium for a number of years prior, their use in research was officially banned in 2008. The law however has an exemption clause, which states: “[An] exemption is only granted in exceptional circumstances and only if the experiment is aimed at research to maintain the species in question or biomedical objectives of essential importance to the species concerned if the species concerned is the only one that appears to be suitable for that objective.” (3)


In 2008, the Spanish Parliament approved a resolution that “gives great apes the right to life and protects them from harmful research practices and exploitation for profit, such as use in films, commercials, and circuses and freedom from arbitrary captivity and protection from torture.” (4) The resolutions comply with the goals of the Great Ape Project. (5)

Balearic Islands (Spain)

In 2007, the Parliament of the Balearic Islands, one of the Autonomous Communities of Spain, announced its approval of a resolution to grant legal rights to great apes. The resolution was also presented to the Spanish Government, who subsequently adopted it in 2008. The resolution “recognizes basic legal protections supported by biological and scientific evidence…” (6)


In December 2005, Austria amended its animal protection laws to forbid experiments on chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas. The law went into effect in 2006. (7) Although no such experiments were being requested or approved at that time in Austria, the Education, Science, and Culture Minister Elisabeth Gehrer stated:

“Great apes are the animals that are most closely related to humans. It is of particular concern for me that there is this explicit prohibition. This will ensure that no such animal experiments will be carried out in the future either.” (8)


In 2006, Japan placed an unofficial ban on invasive chimpanzee research. According to the Japan Anti-Vivisection Association (JAVA), an agreement to end invasive experiments on chimpanzees was reached between the Sanwa Kagaku Kenkyusho pharmaceutical company and primate researchers—many of whom were members of the Support for African/Asian Great Apes (SAGA). Management of the pharmaceutical company’s Kumamoto Primate Park was transferred to Kyoto University and the park was renamed the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Uto. In 2011, the sanctuary's name was changed to the Kumamoto sanctuary. It is located in the Kumamoto Prefecture.

Under the sanctuary's guidelines, “comprehensive studies and experimental research” involving the chimpanzees is allowed. However, “no invasive medical pharmaceutical science and physiological experiments should be conducted, and also no deeds which would possibly bring about any significant behaviorally and psychologically changes to the chimpanzees from the behavior and psychology seen in the chimpanzees who are in their native habitat should be implemented.” (10) Stated by Dr. Tetsuro Matsuzawa, SAGA member and director of the Primate Research Institute at Kyoto University, “I understand that invasive chimpanzee experiments have ceased, so no such experiments are being conducted any more at present in Japan.” As defined by SAGA, the word invasive “refers to treatment that causes irreversible deficits of normal function. In short, illegal or non-ethical treatment prohibited in the case of human subjects is to be likewise prohibited in the great apes.” (11) 


The Policy on the Care and Use of Non-Human Primates for Scientific Purposes put forth by the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia states:

The species of great ape, gorilla, orangutan, chimpanzee and bonobo, are closely related to humans in evolution. Proposals to AECs requesting the use of great apes for scientific purposes may pose particular concerns. Great apes may only be used for scientific purposes if the following conditions are met:

  • Resources, including staff and housing, are available to ensure high standards of care for the animals
  • The use would potentially benefit the individual animal and the species to which the animal belongs
  • The potential benefits of the scientific knowledge gained will outweigh harm to the animal (12)


In 2003, Sweden banned the use of all nonhuman apes in research as part of a binding regulation passed by the Swedish Board of Agriculture and the National Board for Laboratory Animals. Under the Swedish Animal Protection Law (1988:534), the Animal Protection regulation (1988:539) states: “the Swedish Board of Agriculture may produce provisions for conditions and limitations for the breeding and use of laboratory animals. The Provisions regulating use of non-human primates are called DFS 2004:4 (L 55).” (13) According to the new regulation, Swedish researchers will only be allowed to carry out non-invasive behavioral studies involving nonhuman apes. Per-Anders Svärd, campaign manager at Animal Rights Sweden, believed this was a positive step forward for Sweden. He said:

“The decision marks an important shift in official policy, since it implicitly recognizes the individual moral worth of primates. Hopefully, the ban can be seen as a first step towards extending moral and legal rights to millions of other animals suffering in experiments.” (14)

According to the September 2005 responses of Animal Rights Sweden to a survey conducted by the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE), no great apes are used for research in Sweden, and there are no breeding facilities for primates in research in the country. (15)

The Netherlands

In 2002, the Dutch government decided to prohibit future testing on chimpanzees after the end of trials already in progress. The last European laboratory to use chimpanzees in experiments was the Biomedical Primate Research Centre (BPRC) in Rijswijk, Netherlands, and the Dutch Parliament voted unanimously to have BPRC’s chimpanzee population released into retirement. Since BPRC obtains funding from the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science, the Dutch government played a crucial role in the decision-making and ultimately agreed to provide funding for the retirement of BPRC’s chimpanzee population—numbering more than 100—based on building expenses and costs of lifetime care. (16)

BPRC’s website states that, “In close consultation with the Dutch government BPRC has stopped all research with chimpanzees in 2004.” (17) Unfortunately, prior to ending their chimpanzee research, BPRC ran one final test on six young chimpanzees and infected them with hepatitis C, an incurable disease. Despite the announcement of a national ban in 2002, these six chimpanzees were subjected to research and languished in BPRC’s research facilities until their retirement. (18)

In September 2006, 28 chimpanzees infected with HIV and/or hepatitis C were transferred from the BPRC to the AAP Foundation, which is a sanctuary for exotic animals in Almere, Netherlands. The chimpanzees reside in a Special Care Unit that is part of AAP’s new care-for-life facility called the Chimpanzee Complex. A total of 52 non-infected chimpanzees from BPRC were also transferred to de Beekse Bergen—a safari wildlife park in the Netherlands. (19) The remaining BPRC chimpanzees were allocated to various zoos throughout Europe and the BPRC reported they no longer had any chimpanzees as of October 2007. (20)

The ban and BPRC closure were victories for the People Against Chimpanzee Experiments (PACE) and the Coalition to End Experiments on Chimpanzees in Europe (CEECE), a coalition of Dutch and British animal protection groups, which had launched a public awareness campaign. (21)

AAP is a sanctuary active in the Netherlands and Spain and provides shelter for confiscated primates and abandoned pets.

New Zealand

“[New Zealand’s ban on great ape research] may be a small step forward for the great apes, but it is nevertheless historic—the first time a parliament has voted in favor of changing the status of a group of animals so dramatically that the animal cannot be treated as a research tool…”

—Peter Singer, co-founder of the Great Ape Project

In October 1999, the New Zealand Parliament passed into law an amendment to their Animal Welfare Act, which banned the use of nonhuman hominids in research, testing, and teaching, except where such uses are in the best interests of the nonhuman hominid. The Act defines a “nonhuman hominid” as “any non-human member of the family Hominidae, being a gorilla, chimpanzee, bonobo or orangutan.” (22) The law went into effect January 2000.

In announcing the ban, New Zealand’s Minister for Food, Fibre, Biosecurity, and Border Control, the Honorable John Luxton, announced that the new Act would take the “small but nevertheless important step” of banning harmful experimentation on nonhuman hominids. This legislation appears to be the “first legislation in the world to explicitly prohibit harmful research and testing on other hominids,” and may send a “moral message to other nations.” (23)

The ban resulted primarily from a campaign by the New Zealand branch of the Great Ape Project (GAP), which was co-founded by Peter Singer, a professor at Princeton and a pioneer in animal rights philosophy. GAP is dedicated to “extending [basic] legal rights to the great apes and thus greater protection from harm.” (24)

United Kingdom

In 1997, the United Kingdom announced a policy of no longer granting licenses for research involving great apes. At the time, the British Home Secretary Jack Straw said:

“This is a matter of morality. The cognitive and behavioural characteristics and qualities of these animals mean it is unethical to treat them as expendable for research.” (25)

The U.K., however, continues to use other primates for research. The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) has released several reports on primate experimentation in the European Union analyzing the use of primates in research, such as, “Ending Primate Experiments—Meeting the Challenge.” (26)


There is no formalized ban in Canada, yet recent investigations suggest that no chimpanzees are currently being used in Canadian research. However, complete information is not available.

In the absence of a country-wide ban, it is possible that private companies may be using chimpanzees or that the use of biological samples from U.S. chimpanzees could be more prevalent than known. According to a 2008 Canwest [Canadian] News Service article, “Chimp depiction angers famed scientist Goodall,” by Margaret Munro, “there is no known government-funded chimp research in Canada, but…information about the private sector is hard to obtain. Environment Canada administers the trade of endangered species, but the department’s media relations department could not provide any information on the number of chimpanzees in Canada.” (27) An earlier 1998 Reuters article noted, “Medical research using chimpanzees is not prohibited in Canada but the Canadian Council on Animal Welfare, a national peer review agency on the use of animals in research, teaching and testing, says they are not currently being used there.” (28)

Project R&R’s investigations of Canadian research, including NIH funding to Canada and information from Canadian animal protection groups, turned up only two chimpanzee-related studies. Click here to read protocols that use a virus derived from chimpanzees and therefore may or may not involve the use of blood and/or other tissue samples collected from chimpanzees in the U.S.

Project R&R works for the release and restitution of all chimpanzees in U.S. labs. In solidarity with U.S. efforts, organizations and individuals from other countries around the globe can help as well. Please visit Sign Petitions and Send Letters to End Chimpanzee Research to show your support.

NEAVS seeks all accurate information on research involving chimpanzees throughout the world. Please send updates for this resource to


(1) National Institutes of Health

(2) European Union: Commission Proposal for Laboratory Animals

(3) Global Action in the Interest of Animals

(4) “Great Apes Get Legal Rights in Spain.” (December 29, 2008). Nature’s Crusaders.

(5) Roberts, Martin. (June 25, 2008). “Spanish Parliament to Extend Rights to Apes.” Reuters.

(6) Great Ape Project

(7) Association against Animal Factories

(8) “Austria moves towards ban on ape experiments,” (May 10, 2005). Monkeys In The News,

(9) Uto Chimpanzee Sanctuary, now known as the Kumamoto Sanctuary.

(10) Kumamoto Sanctuary and personal correspondence with Japan Anti-Vivisection Association

(11) Support for African/Asian Great Apes (SAGA)

(12) National Health and Medical Research Council, Australia

(13) Animal Rights Sweden and personal correspondence with Dr. Cecilia Mille-Lindblom, International Affairs Officer of ARS

(14) Animal Rights Sweden

(15) Svard, Per-Anders. (Sept. 2005). Answers from Djurens Ratt/Animal Rights Sweden to ECEAE Questionnaire/Primates Campaign.

(16) Biomedical Primate Research Centre (BPRC), Netherlands, and Animal People News

(17) BPRC

(18) People Against Chimpanzee Experiments (PACE)

(19) Foundation AAP and personal correspondence with the AAP Sanctuary

(20) BPRC

(21) PACE

(22) Taylor, Rowan. (2001). ”A Step at a Time: New Zealand’s Progress Toward Hominid Rights,” Animal Law Journal.

(23) Ibid.

(24) Great Ape Project, and Cavalieri , P. & Singer, P., eds. (1994). The Great Ape Project: Equality Beyond Humanity. St. Martin’s Press, New York.

(25) Fleming, Nic. (June 3, 2006). “Medical tests on great apes should not be banned, says research chief,” Telegraph UK News.

(26) British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection

(27) Munro, Margaret. (March 13, 2008). “Chimp depiction angers famed scientist Goodall,” Canwest News Service.

(28) “Chimps Find Haven From Labs,” (Feb. 18, 1998). Reuters, Carignan, Quebec.

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